Folic Acid During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, chances are you’ve already heard of folic acid or have heard someone mentioning that you should be aware of your folate levels. If you’re trying to get pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, your doctor may have advised you to begin supplementing with folic acid. If this all sounds unfamiliar to you, don’t worry! In this article, we’ll give you a quick run-down of folic acid (and folate) and why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of this vitamin before and throughout your pregnancy.
What Is Folic Acid/Folate?
Folic acid is a form of vitamin B (vitamin B-9) and the synthetic form of folate. Simply put, when you’re taking a vitamin or eating fortified foods, you’re ingesting folic acid; when you’re eating natural foods, like spinach, you’re ingesting folate, which is naturally present in the food.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid each day. As one of the key vitamins required for the growth of the fetus, folic acid supplementation plays a major role in the prevention of birth defects and ensuring proper neural tube development in the baby, especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Can Food Provide the Folic Acid My Baby Needs?
The most common way to add folate to your diet is to look for leafy greens, such as spinach, asparagus, and broccoli. Other foods that contain a high amount of folate include lentils and edamame.
In the U.S., certain foods may be fortified with folic acid, so always be sure to check the nutritional labels to see if this is the case. Some examples of fortified foods include cereal, bread, and pasta.
However, getting the recommended amount of folic acid in your diet is often difficult to track and measure, which is why supplementing folate intake with a prenatal vitamin is recommended.
Prenatal supplements help provide pregnant women with key vitamins, especially folic acid, that may be missing from their diet or present in smaller amounts than recommended by doctors for a healthy pregnancy.
Talk to your Doctor about Folic Acid
When speaking to your doctor, ask about folic acid and the other forms it may come in. For example, prescription Vitafol Ultra features Metafolin (L-methylfolate), which is the active form of folic acid present in the body after it has been broken down.
Some women lack the gene that enables them to metabolize folic acid to L-methylfolate, and therefore do not obtain the important effects of folic acid/folate in the body even after proper supplementation.
Since genetic testing isn’t routine for pregnant women, it is recommended to take a prenatal vitamin that contains Metafolin to ensure that you and your baby are being supplemented adequately. Note that L-methylfolate is not available in over-the-counter products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Ask your doctor if Vitafol prenatal vitamin products are right for you.